Danny Cowley admits difficult Portsmouth decision over Craig MacGillivray which prompted his Charlton switch

Danny Cowley has reflected on the ‘hard decision’ to show Craig MacGillivray the Fratton exit during his summer clear-out.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 5:46 pm

The reigning The News/Sports Mail’s Pompey Player of the Season will face his former club on Saturday.

Now with Charlton, MacGillivray has been a league ever-present for a side presently positioned 21st in League One.

The Scot was a hugely popular figure with the Blues, making 135 appearances in three seasons and being a pivotal figure in their 2019 Checkatrade Trophy success.

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However, Cowley opted against enforcing a club option to retain him beyond the expiry of the goalkeeper’s contract this summer.

Pompey’s boss told The News: ‘Craig is a great character, he was adored by our supporters and is a very, very, very good League One goalkeeper.

‘But we looked at finances and in his deal he had an option which was significantly higher than what his wage was.

‘With the finance we had available, we didn’t think we could afford to do it.

Craig MacGillivray made 135 appearances for Pompey before released on a free transfer - and subsequently joining Charlton. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘Not all of them were my call, there were some we would have liked to have kept but couldn’t.

‘That decision was definitely hard.

‘I knew Craig would have a lot of suitors, there would be a lot that wanted to take him.

‘I was honest with him and told him the truth, be honest, that’s all you can do when delivering difficult news. Try to do it as quickly as you – which I did – and explain your reasons why.

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‘It’s never personal and I have an awful lot of time for him, he’s a lovely, lovely lad who cares deeply.

‘And is a very, very good goalkeeper.’

It is understood MacGillivray was keen to remain at Fratton Park – with Cowley’s decision representing a huge body blow.

As a consequence, he joined Ryan Williams, Jack Whatmough, Charlie Daniels, Ben Close, Tom Naylor, Andy Cannon, Jordy Hiwula and Bryn Morris in leaving.

Instead the Blues’ head coach set his sights on recruiting Gavin Bazunu to rival Alex Bass for the number one spot.

The Republic of Ireland international has already made a massive impact during his fledgling Pompey career.

But Cowley also praised MacGillivray’s willingness to last season adapt a new playing style requiring more of a focus on distribution.

He added: ‘Craig took a lot on board for us because he played in different teams with different styles and we asked him to do a lot more in possession.

‘He worked really, really hard at it and proved that he was capable of doing it. He just hadn’t had the opportunity until that point.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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